A star is born

Astronomers observing a massive young star have been surprised to discover that it is simultaneously birthing a smaller sibling.

In a paper published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, a team led by John Ilee from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds, UK, report the discovery of faint object orbiting a star dubbed MM 1a.

The star was chosen for observation because it is surrounded by a large rotating cloud of gas and dust – the raw material from which stellar objects form.

“When these clouds collapse under gravity, they begin to rotate faster, forming a disc around them,” explains Ilee.

“In low mass stars like our sun, it is in these discs that planets can form. In this case, the star and disc we have observed is so massive that, rather than witnessing a planet forming in the disc, we are seeing another star being born.”

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